Online Mental Health NJ

Daily Life and Coping with Coronavirus

Life has drastically changed for all of us as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). At times, all of these changes can result in overwhelming feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness, and also grief. Many of us have experienced many losses over these past four weeks – from the loss of our ability to see our loved ones whenever we wish and the loss of seeing our co-workers in person, to the loss of jobs and the loss of loved ones. Some of us are struggling with the fear of having to go to work at grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, hospitals, banks, post offices, etc etc. Those of us who are not essential workers might be struggling with feelings of guilt – of feeling like we’re not doing enough. For parents working from home, it can also be very difficult having to balance your own work responsibilities with your child’s/children’s teaching responsibilities. IT’S A LOT. We, at the ADHD, Mood, & Behavior Center, would like to provide our patients, and anyone else looking for some guidance at this difficult time, with some tips on how to cope with these feelings and how to differentiate between a normal stress response and a response that may require professional help. We are currently offering video appointments with our psychiatrists and therapists for our current patients, as well as anyone else who is looking to initiate care at this time. Please do not hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.

Ways for adults to cope:
• Make sure to take breaks from COVID-19 related news stories or social media stories.
• Try to maintain a daily schedule if your day is now significantly less structured. Have a consistent bedtime and waking time. Have well-balanced and regularly scheduled meals. Exercise regularly.
• Make time to relax and engage in activities you enjoy. Try to get some fresh air when you can, while maintaining social distancing practices.
• Try to maintain social connections using video chats and phone calls. There are many apps now that allow you to have group video chats with friends and family.
• Take space when you feel you need it. Sheltering in place could sometimes result in some of us feeling overstimulated by always having to be around those in our household. It’s important that we all take breaks and get space when we need it.
• Avoid unhelpful coping strategies, like substance use and high-risk behaviors.
• Seek out help from a professional if you are struggling.

Ways for parents to help their children cope:
• Limit the amount of television or news children watch as the news can be frightening and disturbing to them. Instead, find accurate and age-appropriate information and have an honest discussion with them using language they can understand. Answer any of their questions honestly.
• Try to maintain a regular routine, as children feel more secure when there is structure to their day.
• Help facilitate video chats and/or phone calls with their friends and family.
• Make sure children get some fresh air whenever they can, while maintaining social distancing practices. Try to implement some sort of daily physical activity.
• It can be very difficult for children to be stuck inside, especially when the weather is beginning to get nicer. Try to come up with fun activities for the family to engage in. Have game nights. Have children help in meal preparation or menu planning. Encourage them to learn a new skill. There are many free online classes available now.
• Give children choices when possible, as this will give them a sense of control during a time when there is little they can control.
• Give them space when they need it. Sheltering in place could sometimes result in some of us feeling overstimulated by always having to be around those in our household. It’s important that we all take a break and get space when we need it.

Common stress responses in adults:
• Changes in sleep or eating patterns
• Difficulty concentrating
• Changes in energy levels
• Avoidance of activities previously enjoyed

Common stress responses in children and teens:
• Excessive crying, irritability, or acting out
• Regressive behaviors or returning to behaviors they have outgrown such as bedwetting
• Changes in sleep or eating habits
• Poor school performance or avoidance of school related tasks
• Difficulty concentrating
• Avoidance of activities previously enjoyed

When to seek out help:
• If any of these responses persist for longer than 1-2 weeks and/or start to get in the way of an individual’s function, it is likely time to seek out professional help from a psychiatrist or therapist.
• If you or your child becomes preoccupied with or has intrusive thoughts or worries surrounding COVID-19 or death.